50 Years of the Pennine Way

Published 24 April 2015

Friday 24 April 1965 was a landmark day. For it was on that day, fifty years ago, that a ceremony was held on Malham Moor. That ceremony was held to celebrate the official opening of the Pennine Way.

Originally proposed in the 1930s by journalist Tom Stephenson, it took decades for the trail to be finally opened. Not that people weren’t walking it before that. Just who was the first person to hike the trail, well I can’t tell you, but it is known that in 1951 teacher Kenneth Oldham led the first school party to walk it, and the first guidebook, also written by Oldham, was published in 1960. Funnily enough, Kenneth Oldham grew up in the same town to the east of Manchester that I did, and went to the same school that a young Timmy Mallet would later attend. But anyway…

The public already had rights to access much of the route that the Pennine Way covers, however it took years of negotiation with landowners for the remainder to be completed. Whilst people were walking the Pennine Way for years before, it took until 1965 for the final section of the trail to be officially opened, and thus the whole thing to be declared “complete”. Such as it still is today. Approval for the creation of the Pennine Bridleway was first granted in 1995, and it wasn’t until 2012 that the final section of that trail was opened.

The Pennine Way was Britain’s first official walking trail, following the Pennine’s – the backbone of Britain – from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. It’s a journey that involves crossing wild moorland, traversing peat bog, and climbing fells. And it was the first of many trails. Four years later, the Cleveland Way officially opened for business, and there’s now hundreds of walking routes crossing the country.

But the Pennine Way is the grandfather of them all. So on Friday, why not raise a toast to the one that started it all off. Happy Birthday Pennine Way. And may you have many more of them.

Anyone who has looked at the Pennine Way section on this website will notice it’s slightly lacking. No worries, for that will all change next week, along with the launch of my latest book, ‘See You In Kirk Yetholm’.


fiona holdsworth

27 April 2015 at 10:15 am

Excited to see that the Pennine Way section is shortly to be updates. Is it possible to organise an alert for when this is done?

Many thanks

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

28 April 2015 at 9:28 am

Fiona – the new pages are going to be released incrementally over the course of the year. However there is a digital book version called ‘See You in Kirk Yetholm’, if you have a Kindle, iPad, Kobo or some other e-reader, and there’s also a paperback version too available from Amazon. There’s going to be a page added to this site with all the links, on Thursday.

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